Hamilton delighted despite car struggles

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Lewis Hamilton has made no secret of the battle he has waged with the Mercedes W04 car so far this season, and he explained further how it was difficult to fine tune and perfect the setup of the car despite scoring his second pole position of the season at the British Grand Prix.

The 2008 world champion posted a fastest time of 1:29.607 – a full four-tenths clear of closest rival Nico Rosberg – to seal his second pole position at Silverstone with a stunning lap in the dying moments of qualifying. However, he hasn’t had it so easy this weekend.

“I really have been struggling with the car, trying to get it to behave the way I want it to,” Hamilton explained in the post-race press conference.

“We have a great car, but to fine tune seems a little bit harder. We made the right steps and made a change into qualy which helped.”

Hamilton praised the Mercedes W04 further, believing that it is better than his previous four cars – all with McLaren.

“This is the first time since 2008 that I’ve really had a car I can compete with.”

It is worth noting that in this time, Hamilton still won many races and even had a shot at the championship come the final round in 2010. Regardless, he is evidently delighted to be a part of the Mercedes setup, and this pole will certainly go down as one of his most important.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.